Sunday, June 08, 2014

Top 10 Writers of Fiction

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been a bookworm.  I’ve gotten into all kinds of genre of literature, hence, I can claim that I am somewhat well-read and have been exposed to many writers of fiction (of course, there are probably a couple of great writers that I haven’t encountered yet.  Example, there are plenty of general ravings for George R. R. Marin nowadays, but I haven’t read a single A Song of Ice and Fire book yet). 

There are a lot of talented storytellers out there, but I got only room for ten.  Here are my top 10 favorite writers of fiction, based on my fondness of their works and my preference. 

(First, some honorable mentions [considered, but didn’t make the final cut]: Harry Turtledove, Neil Gaiman, Edgar Allan Poe, John Grisham, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ann McCaffrey, Dean Koontz, R.L. Stine)


Ian Fleming’s 007 books are immensely enjoyable spy thrillers, but it was Clancy’s Jack Ryan books who gave readers an actual intelligent look on the intelligence game through a work of fiction. Hence, Clancy’s technically detailed Jack Ryan novels are as thrilling as Bond’s over-the-top adventures, but also more mentally stimulating. 

I have read (and have in my collection) all Ryan books up to Red Rabbit (though this tale falls on Ryan’s career’s earlier days), and they were all awesome.   However, I haven’t read yet any Ryan book after his presidency (which were more centered on his son, Jack Ryan, Jr.) – starting with The Teeth of the Tiger – but according to several, it’s not as great as the early Ryan books.    


Dickens is considered by many as the greatest novelist of the Victorian Era.  His stories mostly deal with themes of social condition and human morality, and he utilizes his storytelling to effectively critique and analyze those days’ social issues.  I’m fond and have been moved by a lot of Dickens’ works, but my most favorite, for it touched me most, will always be A Tale of Two Cities.        


There is a reason why Mark Twain (pseudonym of Sam Clemens) was called “America’s Greatest Humorist.”  His writings were incredibly witty and entertaining.  He loved to tell yarns and tall tales, that even when he was writing non-fiction, you can’t rely on its truthfulness, but they will be surely entertaining. 

I first got to encounter Twain through his most popular works, Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  I was still in my elementary days then, and those stories mightily appealed to me because of all the fun boyish stuff in it that I could relate on.  But, at this point, my favorite Twain novel is A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.             


The real “Master of Macabre” is Edgar Allan Poe (this is the author that sent me on frequent dictionary trips while reading his works) or H.P. Lovecraft (I am aware of his style and the mythology he created.  But I’ve never really read a lot of his works. That’s why he was not even in my “honorable mentions.”  Most of my Lovecraftian readings came through some Lovecraftian short stories of Neil Gaiman), but if you are familiar with King’s works, you would see why some call him this.   He knows how to use the elements of horror and fantasy to the benefit of his stories. 

There are criticisms out there that brand King as a “poor” or “shallow” writer.  But, for me, as far as the King books I’ve read are concerned, Stephen King is a master storyteller.  His stories are very entertaining and will really grip you,  The Stand and The Dark Tower series are probably King’s best works.      


Whedon is a storytelling genius.  His written works – mostly scripts for TV and movies – though probably lacking real depth and not really intellectual, are full of heart and wit.  He really knows how to create characters, dialogues, and sequences that will be extremely delightful and notable.   

In making movies and TV series, there are a lot of writers involved in the process.  But when Whedon is part of the project, his participation stands out because infusion of his brand of clever storytelling, amusing humor, and thrilling twists to the product are noticeable.  Some of his most important works are Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Toy Story, and the Avengers movie. 

Aside from writing stories for TV and film, Whedon also writes for comics, particularly the Buffy comics.  However, Whedon’s best comic book work will always be his run on Astonishing X-Men, which is not only one of the best X-Men stories ever written, but is one of the greatest comic book stories ever written.


Due to writing this list only did I realize that my most favorite comicbook writer is Alan Moore.   Whether it is a superhero comic book, a fantasy comic book, or a horror comic book, Moore has great mastery and versatility in telling stories through the comic book medium.  The Killing Joke is one of the best Batman tales ever.  His run on Supreme has been brilliant, combining elements of the Silver Age of comicbooks to a metta narrative.  Watchmen is the greatest comic book story ever.  League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Miracleman, V for Vendetta, Swamp Thing, etc.   The man might be acting like a creepy and crazy “grumpy, old man” nowadays, but as far as writing comic books is concerned, he’s arguably the best.  (Too bad Marvel never got to make him write for one of their major properties.  Really intriguing to wonder what awesomeness he could have done for Hulk, Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, or the Avengers.  He did get to write a couple of Captain Britain stories, and they were well-praised, but I haven’t got to read them yet.)


Conan Doyle had other literary works, but he has made his name in history as the guy who brought us Sherlock Holmes, the greatest detective in fiction.  Being phenomenally proficient in observation and deduction himself, Conan Doyle easily created a fictional character that mirrors his gifts.   Then, he was able to construct brilliantly written adventures that would make this character be exceptional.   Indeed, I’ve read all (canon) Sherlock Holmes stories, and they are among of the most absorbing readings I’ve ever had.    


Asimov is one of the most prolific writers, if not the most, in history.  He has written so many books that if you read one Asimov book a week, it would take you around nine years to read them all!  His written works are highly varied, of different genre and of different topics.  But he is most known for his science fiction works.   There are many science fiction enthusiasts (me included) who consider him as the greatest science fiction writer of all time.    His stories are pretty smart, but they are very easy to follow and are a lot of fun.  My most favorite works of Asimov are his Foundation series and Robots series. 


So far, the “smartest” reads I’ve ever had came from Michael Crichton.  He has the knack of utilizing a mix of actual and fabricated scientific and historical facts, and build exciting tales around them.   There will be a couple of “technical paper” writings incorporated in his novels, but these are the most entertaining papers you will ever read.   Often times, Crichton will also let his stand on some controversial issues be reflected in his novels.  Reading Crichton’s works are not only enjoyable, but also very informative and thought provoking.  

1.) C.S. LEWIS

In my tribute to C.S. Lewis, here was how I described him as a writer:
He wastes no words; it’s as if he always nails the best words to use to perfectly strike his points home.  He provides thoughtful and clever illustrations to make his ideas more empathic and engaging.  His writings are always meaty, insightful, thought-provoking, appealing, and delightful.  Reading Lewis’ works is very rewarding and refreshing.

Whether fiction or non-fiction, I find Lewis a fantastic writer.  But as a fiction writer, particularly when I read his Chronicles of Narnia, his writing was able to stir a childlike imagination in me (despite of me being a teen then), making the world of Narnia wonderfully vivid, filling me with delight, and, at the same time, the stories’ themes were made very real to me.  I’ve had experienced many “reading highs”, but Narnia was an amazing experience that has never been replicated in any of my other fiction readings so far.       

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